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Empowered Consumers in 2013: Forging Connections to the Mobile Web

  • January 2013
  • 8 pages
  • Frost & Sullivan
Report ID: 1623808

Summary

Table of Contents

This Market Insight examines the convergence between mobile consumers and online communications, which can be referred to as “the mobile Web”, and the effect this is having on the way businesses deliver customer service. Although consumers prefer direct access to the Web as a primary contact channel, mobile applications are gaining momentum. Today mobile contact solutions connect mobile apps with the Web, automated and live agent customer care, sales, and billing.

Introduction—The Mobility Movement and the Web

Consumers are going to the mobile Web by using smartphones and tablets that have access to the Web. Frost & Sullivan estimates that smartphones will surpass feature phones by 2013 on Tier-1 wireless U.S. networks. Smartphones will grow from percent of devices in 2011, to percent of devices by 2017. The number of smartphone connections will increase from million in 2011, to million in 2017, a percent CAGR.

The amount of data consumption, driven by consumer's use of these devices, is growing exponentially as well. Smartphone data consumption will explode almost 8-fold from petabytes in 2011 to petabytes by 2017, a percent CAGR.

Tablets, often considered competitors to smartphones, will grow at a percent CAGR from 2011 to 2017, though they continue to have a much smaller share of the market. The number of tablet connections is projected to grow from million to million over the same period.

Canadians also are moving to the mobile Web. The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission's Communications Monitoring Report 2012 reports smartphone and tablet demand reached between - percent and percent respectively in 2011.

Unlike prior decades when technology changes were largely vendor-driven, Frost & Sullivan views consumers as the primary driver behind the demand for the mobile Web. Today, consumers are using mobile devices to search, buy products, and obtain services. This has shifted the paradigm, as consumers prefer customer service be approached in the same manner.

Evolution of Mobile Apps as a Channel

Initially, this consumer trend gained momentum as the Web became the preferred place to access information about companies, but has evolved as a way of buying goods and services and making transactions. Web self-service has now become the preferred customer contact channel, enabled by improved web design and functionality, an explosion in residential broadband networks, and improved access to agents.

Frost & Sullivan research has found that consumers find greater satisfaction with Web self-service than with other contact center channels, including live agent voice and chat. Only when customers are unable to obtain information or complete interactions via the Web do they choose to contact agents.

A similar dynamic is now occurring in the mobile space. The mobile revolution has spawned the creation, development, and proliferation of mobile apps, which are Web self-service applications that users download to their mobile devices. Mobile apps provide faster, more direct access to specific online functions (when compared to connecting into companies' web sites directly), such as managing financial transactions and travel planning, both of which are optimized for mobile devices.

According to some vendors, mobile apps are more secure than other self-service methods like IVR, because information is carried over encrypted connections. Feedback from Frost & Sullivan and third party vendor surveys support the argument that a large majority of consumers prefer using mobile apps to other channels. Consider the following examples:
• ClickFox Survey. A ClickFox "Mobile Apps for Customer Service" survey noted that over 90 percent of respondents would replace some or all traditional customer service channels with a mobile app if available.
• Nuance Survey. A Nuance survey found that 72 percent of smartphone users said they have a more positive view of a company if that company has a mobile app. Source: "Nuance Survey Taps Smartphone Users for Insight on Their Mobile App Usage Patterns" Press Release.

Mobile apps have as much potential to be a key channel for customers as does direct Web access. If implemented correctly, mobile apps can cut transaction costs significantly, increasing the containment rate within self-service, and reducing calls into the contact center. In some industries, mobile apps can drive call volumes down, but the length and complexity of calls up. If consumers have exhausted the self-service part of the contact, chances are that the interaction with an agent will be longer than typical.

At the same time, mobile devices also possess capabilities such that the reverse can be true in some industries. For example, Frost & Sullivan research shows that the travel industry has the highest percentage of customers using web self-service, which permits customers to compare a greater number of travel options on a screen compared to listening to an agent. For instance, too often, harried customers that are "on-the-go" face long calls when they need to re-book a flight. With a mobile customer care application, an agent knows the location of the caller and the context and status of the customer. The agent can present options on the screen of the caller's mobile device, thereby providing more efficient service while reducing complexity.

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